[FTC]: [FTC]: HELP! Multiple fields set up!!!

Hi everyone.

I’m not sure this is the place for this post, but I’m in an absolute pickle. we’re hosting an FTC scrimmage in our school tomorrow, and we have multiple fields. An individual field will work fine, but when I try to put a second field in, my USB to UART (CP210X) controller bombs out and neither device works.

I hope and pray that SOMEONE has some experience with this and comment on a real fast basis. I’m totally confuzzled and tried looking through all documentation but to no avail.

Are you running version 5 of the scoring software? There was a driver issue with new field controllers having a new chipset if I’m not mistaken.

It sounds like you are trying to control both fields from a single computer. I have no idea if that is possible or desirable. At the school I assist, they used a separate computer to control each of two fields.

I suspect that I’m writing this is too late for your event, but maybe the next person planning a multi-field event will benefit from being reminded that separate computers is one option.


Take a look in the device manager (Control Panel->System->Hardware->Device Manager, under “Ports”) and make sure you see two instances of “Silicon Labs CP210x…” there. If you only see one, then unplug one of the field controllers and look at which COM port is listed for the controller which is still plugged in. After that, unplug that controller and plug in the other one and look at which COM port is shown. If they’re the same, then that is the cause of the problem. Some of the field controllers at one point were shipped with identical serial numbers which means that Windows has no way of telling them apart when they’re both plugged in.

It is definitely possible and has been done at many events.

After a number of phone conversations yesterday, I believe that the solution was found, largely thanks to both Brad Lauer and VexLover on CD. But to answer the previously stated question, yes, I did indeed have the latest version of the FTC Scoring software (as well as the IFI software).

You can indeed run multiple fields from the scoring table PC.

The issue we were having, however seems to stem from the UART to USB bridge drivers connecting the field to the PC. The problem with the Silicon Labs CP210x (CP2103) driver that we had was that the virtual com port driver “locks” to a single USB root hub, and since many computers now have separate root hubs for each USB port, when we tried to hook multiple fields onto multiple USB ports, the virtual UART com port driver couldn’t decide which USB root hub to “lock” onto, and thus the conflict.

Now, from what I understand, there is probably some sort of software (or BIOS-related) solution out there where we could have bound multiple USB ports to a single root hub, but the easier solution was to simply plug a USB hub into one of the ports, and plug both fields into the hub. This way, both fields were on the same USB root hub, so the UART to USB bridge worked fine setting up multiple devices.

As a side note, I’d like to thank Harmonix for packing a USB hub with their Xbox 360 game Rock Band, because that was the only one I own :).

What was happening was that I would go into the properties, manually set a com port, disconnect and reconnect the device, and then see that the com port was changed. If I disconnected that device and put another in, it used that com port again. Both fields would try to use the same com port Once I put the 2nd device in, the 1st one in device manager got the beloved yellow (!) and no 2nd device showed up, and neither field would work. I couldn’t even change the com port within the settings. Disconnecting either field would cause the other to work, back on the whatever port was established by the UART to USB driver that I set before.

Now, I can be totally off-base, but I went with VexLover’s suggestion to us the USB hub and it worked like a charm.

This would explain somethings I’ve seen this past year. Esp cases where you can plug either controller into either USB ports on a laptop and have it be seen, but if you put them both together it only sees one. Thanks for posting the information as it should help some of the other events.

Hmmm… I think I’ll add a usb hub to my list of items to have on hand at our tournament.

Thank you, Chris, for sharing your agony with us…


Other than the non-trivial advantage of only using one expensive computer to control the fields, is there an advantage to controlling two FTC fields with a single computer?


Unless there has been a change I missed to the scoring system, it only supports running the scoring program and controllers on 1 machine. It wouldn’t be able to properly schedule matches across 2 computers or handle rankings. That could have changed but had not last time I knew.

IFI has released a miniature program that allows you to simply control a field from a PC, so you could have two computers set up, one for scoring and for running field 1, and one for running field two, but scoring and rankings can only be done on one PC.

Additionally, the scoring software has a pair of radio buttons labelled “Field 1” and “Field 2”. When the scorer says Go, whichever field selected begins autonomous mode. Now, from the results we had yesterday, our scorer was very diligent in remotely switching the Audience display (which was on a separate PC hooked up to a projector) between “Intro”(Who’s coming up), “Timer” (A huge timeclock), and “Results” (Duh). Having the timer correctly synched with both fields was a very nice touch.

We only ran one field at a time, but we had fairly constant action and had the field reset crews keep busy on the other field. The only downtime here was that the teams (or after some rounds, refs) couldn’t all get there fast enough to start right away. Regardless, after everything was working, things ran pretty smoothly.

Now, I COULD be wrong here, and if so, please correct me, but if you were to use IFI’s mini-field controller, it’s independent of the scoring server, so you wouldn’t be able to control the timer being displayed to the audience (such as the variable time between autonomous mode and when the tele-operated period begins).